It marks the start of the new lunar year on the Balinese calendar: Nyepi - which literally translates as to remain quiet is a day of island-wide mandatory silence and introspection separating two saka years.
Nyepi falls on Wednesday, April 2, 2003, commencing with the sunrise on that date and ending 24 hours later. A day of complete physical inactivity, Nyepi, as observed by devout Balinese Hindu's, forbids the consumption of food and drink, human speech, and the lighting of any fires or lamps for 24 hours. In many villages across the island, pecalang or local community police, patrol the empty streets empowered to fine any house seen to be emitting light or making noise during the proscribed period.
Similarly, all of Bali comes to a complete standstill on Nyepi day: shops are closed, traffic is barred from all streets, and while hotel guests are generally allowed free use of hotel grounds and facilities they are prohibited from leaving the hotel premises for that entire day. Service staff working at local hotels during the Nyepi period, and unable to travel the roads between their homes and place of employment, are required to stay at their hotels throughout the period.
Airport Closed on April 02
Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport will also be closed from 0600 hours on Wednesday, April 2, until 0600 hours the following day.
The airport authority will allow airplanes to make transit and refueling stops during the 24 hour Nyepi celebration, but will not be allowed aircraft to embark or disembark passengers during the specified period.
Emergency Services to be Maintained
While traffic is barred from streets across the island, police will allow the unimpeded passage of emergency vehicles. Hospitals and major medical centers will be staffed and operating throughout the traditional day of silence marking the beginning of the Saka year 1925 on the Balinese Hindu calendar.
A highlight for visitors to Bali during the annual Nyepi celebrations is the chance to participate in the ogoh-ogoh processions found in every village across the island.
In a night of Mardi gras-like celebrations, the evening of April 1st will see virtually every village banjar in Bali launch giant floats to be paraded through local streets. The floats, almost always in the form of giant effigies of traditional demons or comic caricatures of well-known celebrities, are carried through the streets on the shoulders of young men wishing to prove that their physical endurance and float-making capabilities excel those of any neighboring group. For weeks prior to Nyepi the village banjar halls are busy every evening with groups of young men designing and building their ogoh-ogoh float.
Visitors wishing to view the fun can position themselves on any street near their hotel. If possible, avoid driving the island on this evening as many roads will be blocked by ogoh-ogoh parades.
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